Supervised people: 130
Year of establishment: 1994
“Santosa” (translated: Happiness), founded in 1994, is a nationally recognized charity. The founder, Wim Van der Beek, who is a Dutch citizen, resides in Santosa.
Santosa is located in the fishing village of Negombo, which is located about 25 kilometers north of the capital of Colombo.
The fishermen are among the poorest inhabitants of the land and self-made alcohol is widely consumed. Most of the fishermen sail very primitive boats (“rafters”), which are unsafe, on the open sea. Most of these boats are hired, because the fishermen cannot afford their own, and 50% of their proceeds go to the landlord.
One out of ten women have been widowed through fishing accidents.
Children and women are left to their own destiny and do not receive state aid; the poverty and suffering of these families are great. Often there is a lack of basic foods.
Santosa operates a school and a workshop for mentally and / or physically disabled young people. Basically, the young people produce paper by hand, which then is subsequently processed into cards, envelopes and folders.
Disabled children are brought to the day school every morning by Santosa’s own school bus, where they attend classes with trained teachers and therapists throughout the day.
In addition, Santosa operates a supplement school for non-disabled children in the afternoon.
With up to 50 students per class, most subjects in the public schools are treated only superficially, requiring costly, supplementary private lessons. The children of the fishermen need the help of Santosa – their families cannot afford the extra tuition.
Santosa offers the following in addition to a complete education for disabled and non disabled children:
Free time and sports activities (helps avert alcohol-oriented behavior as practiced by their fathers)
Monthly food packages to the poorest families in the immediate vicinity of Santosa
Warm evening meals for the poorest children in the area (60 to 80 meals per day)
Support the poorest families with contributions to the renovation of their huts / houses and the construction of latrines
Delivery of drugs
Distribution of fishing stuff
Families are often ashamed of their disabled children and isolate them. Santosa regularly organizes activities between non-disabled and disabled children. These meet with great approval and are happily and actively attended.